What is ‘Clearing’ and How Does It Work?

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

A Level Results Day is just a few weeks away, and here at Save My Exams we want to help you prepare for all eventualities. Although we’re confident that everything will go to plan and you’ll all do brilliantly, it’s important to be informed about your options in case things don’t pan out quite as you’d hoped.

If you’ve applied to university, and are waiting to see whether you’ve got a place, you should know all about the ‘Clearing’ process – because you might be making use of it should you not get offered places at your first or second choice unis.

Read on for everything you need to know about ‘Clearing’!

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a service offered by UCAS, whereby universities can advertise any places they still have available after Results Day. It stays open until September.

 You are eligible for Clearing if you have completed your UCAS application and one of the following has occurred: 

  • You didn’t get any university offers
  • You turned down the offers you have received
  • Your offer has not been confirmed after Results Day

Of the three scenarios listed above, the last point is the most common.

Following the receival of exam results, grade requirements are not always achieved and your place at your first choice university might not be confirmed.

If this is the case, you will have to go through Clearing in order to secure a place at university for September.

Don’t forget that if you’re not set on going this year, and are happy to wait, you could always take a gap year and resit the necessary exams next year!

How does Clearing work?

1. Take a deep breath

Although this day is not exactly how you had imagined it, everything is going to be fine.

Each year thousands of students find themselves going through Clearing, and end up securing a place on a brilliant course at a fantastic university; all through Clearing.

In addition, places that are available through Clearing are available for a number of reasons. So don’t get it into your head that you’re being faced with the leftovers. 

2. Find a course and university that suits your needs 

Once you’ve found out that you haven’t got a place at your top universities, you can have a browse of what’s available on Clearing using the UCAS search tool, or go directly to a university website if you have a particular institution in mind.

See if your course is available at other universities, or if there are other courses you’d be interested in with a lower grade criteria at your first choice uni.

If you’re totally set on one uni, contact their admissions office and ask if they’ll still consider you. If you’re not far off the required mark, you might be able to go. You have nothing to lose by calling!

3. Give your new chosen university a call

Once you have found a course you are interested in, at a university that appeals to you, call them straight away.

You can easily find all the contact information you need online. Find out if you have met the necessary requirements and if they still have spaces available. 

4. Accept or decline the place

If you are offered a place on your Clearing course and want to accept, then you must add your Clearing choice to UCAS Track.

Once you’ve signed in, select ‘Add a Clearing choice’ in the ‘Next Steps’ section. 

Important things to note:

  • You can only apply to one course at one institution at a time when you are going through Clearing. Therefore, make sure you are fully informed before you accept any offers.
  • If you do have a change of heart for whatever reason – whether something doesn’t feel quite right, or you have found a better option – you can do something about it.
  • In previous years, you would have had to contact the university and ask to be released if you wanted to decline an offer and enter Clearing. However, this year, UCAS have introduced online self-release.

Online Self-Release

Online Self-Release is new to UCAS, and allows you to click on the ‘Decline my place’ button found on the homepage of UCAS Track, and release yourself into Clearing; rather than having to contact your chosen university or college.

The process is simple:

1. Sign in to Track and click ‘Decline my place’ on the homepage.

2. You’ll be taken to a page which explains what you’re about to do, and will have to answer a drop-down question, before confirming.

3. You’ll recieve an email to confirm you’re in Clearing, and advising you to phone the university you’ve declined, if you’ve made a mistake.

Sign up for ‘clearing’ alerts

The Student Room run an incredibly helpful online service, which allows students to sign up for ‘clearing’ alerts.

To sign up for the alerts you simply need to:

  1. Provide your email address
  2. Tell The Student Room what course you want to study

They’ll then send you alerts from universities with places available. It’s that simple!


Want more information?

If you’re in need of any further resources or assistance on the day, check out UCAS and the government website on Clearing. Best of luck!

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